The Tampa Bay Ray won’t push a Tampa/Montreal operating proposal during the 2021 playoffs with Tropicana Field signage, saying it would distract from a team expected to go far in the postseason.
The Rays had announced the plan to erect new signage against the back wall at Tropicana Field touting a Tampa Bay/Montreal team beginning the season in a new Tampa ballpark and ending the season at a new Montreal ballpark. After hearing from fans, principal owner Stuart Sternberg announced on the Rays pregame broadcast yesterday those plans would scrapped this year. From the Tampa Bay Times:
“I’m really here to speak directly to our fans today,” Sternberg said. “And to apologize, quite frankly. I’ve always said that baseball is meant to be fun and engaging and exciting. Brings a community together.
“I made a big mistake, a real mistake, in trying to promote our sister-city plan with a sign right now in our home ballpark. I absolutely should have known better. And really, I’m sorry for that. I’m here to tell … the fans that the sign is not going to go up.”
“It’s a time for the whole community to come together and rally as one. By suggesting we have a sign that I knew could be controversial, I put much of that at risk. Plain and simple, it was a bad decision. And that’s why we aren’t going to go through with it.”
This isn’t to say the Tampa-Montreal idea is dead–far from it, and even if the sign was scrapped, the fuss let Sternberg once again raise the argument that such an arrangement is the best way to keep Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay. The team’s stance is that with the Tropicana Field lease ending after the 2027 season, it’s time to begin planning for the next phase of Rays baseball. With Montreal backers meeting with political officials there, the new-ballpark efforts are underway, efforts that could have some wide-ranging effects throughout Tampa Bay.
Photo of proposed covered Ybor City ballpark from the Rays; presumably the design has changed once the Rays started discussing an open-air ballpark.
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